On June 19, 2015, I'm facilitating a mini Pro Action Cafe for the Philadelphia Youth Network's ENGAGE conference. I wanted to post about it here, both to share the idea as well as to act as a follow-up resource with handouts for those who attend the session.
What is a Pro Action Cafe
A Pro Action Cafe is a space for creative, action-oriented conversations where people can bring a project, idea, question, etc. to a group and go through a structured questioning process to get key feedback and help them think through their ideas.
The focus is on helping people clarify action steps that will help them move their project or idea forward. It can be used for virtually any topic, theme, etc.
The video above gives a brief overview of the process.
The video below is an example of how it's been used to help start-ups think through their business idea so you can get a feel for how a Cafe might play out.
Benefits of a Pro Action Cafe
I've used Pro Action Cafes as part of a Business Leadership Academy that I lead and facilitate for the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce. Participants volunteer to share a challenge or problem that they're dealing with at work and then we go through the structured questioning process to help them think through the challenge. I've also used them in entrepreneurial coaching, to help people flesh out their business ideas.
We've consistently found that both the "callers" (the people who volunteer to talk about their problem or issue) and the people giving feedback are enthusiastic about the process because it brings out ideas and possibilities that they might not have considered. The callers get multiple perspectives on their issue and the participants often find resolutions to some of their own situations or new ideas through the conversations that take place.
Resources on Pro Action Cafes
Below are some additional resources on running a Pro Action Cafe.
- Mini Pro Action Cafe Handout--this is the handout I'm using for the workshop.
- Pro Action Cafe Hosting Kit--More on logistics here.
- The University Project: Pro Action Cafe--Includes logistical info and a debrief on the experience of using the model as part of a conference.
- 3-Page Handout from the creators of the process.
- Slideshow from a Training on Pro Action Cafes.